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TPD Issues Plea For Help After Person Shot At Gas Station While 300 Witnesses Present

A row of Tallahassee police cars
Tallahassee Police Department Facebook

The Tallahassee Police Department is asking for community help in solving an early morning Saturday shooting where some 300 people were gathered at the Rattler Gas Station on West Orange Avenue and Springhill Road.

TPD says the crowd hindered emergency response efforts to help the person who was shot. In its first statement on the shooting issued at 9:19 a.m. Saturday, the agency described the response to the situation as "difficult.”

“When officers attempted to get to the victim, the crowd surrounded the individual, making it difficult for officers and responding Leon County EMS personnel to assess the victim. To help provide needed aid, the victim was rapidly placed on a gurney and taken from the scene with a police escort. The victim was transported to the hospital, where they were unfortunately pronounced deceased.”

Florida A&M University issued a response to the shooting Sunday, saying the gas station, which bears the name of the school mascot, has no connection to the institution.

“Florida A&M University expresses its condolences to the families suffering from the recent deadly and senseless acts of violence whether they occur in a church parking lot or at a service station. While the latter location bears the name of our mascot, it has no affiliation with the University.”

The statement referenced a recent shooting in the parking lot of a nearby church where a Leon High School student was killed days earlier.

“FAMU and the citizens of this community have fought too hard and come too far to not respect the life and value of every individual. It is our mission to provide educational opportunities to enhance our community and inspire others to do the same.”

In a statement on her Facebook page, City Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox said of the gas station shooting, “We are better than this… prove it.”

This marks the second fatal shooting in the city in two days, and the forth in July. Friday, a man was found dead in the parking lot of University Courtyard Apartments on South Adams Street. He had been shot.

The police department has been struggling to address “pop up gatherings” of large crowds in the wake of bar and nightclub closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Historically, the agency says, it has worked with owners to allow officers to patrol such properties but says it cannot do the same to businesses that don’t allow officers to disperse crowds on their property. TPD says its efforts at crowd control have also been hindered due to changes in an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis that rescinded law enforcement’s ability to police mass gatherings.

“It is vital for community safety and community health that businesses work with TPD to disperse these crowds prior to a tragic event, as was seen last night, occurring. It is also imperative that residents take a stand against violence and share information that can help bring closure to these cases for the grieving families,” TPD said.

Williams-Cox’s message was more blunt.

“Mr. Gizaw, you sir have got to call the police to get people off of your private property. You bear some of this responsibility...own it and do something. If anyone contracted Covid-19 by being on your property, I will make sure it is known! Manage this situation or possibly be sued for allowing this behavior on your property sir!” she said via a post on her Facebook page.

Wondu Gizaw is the gas station's manager.